U.S. Representative Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02), Ranking Member of the House Coast Guard & Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, today praised the passage of H.R. 3619, the "Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010," which authorizes $10 billion in funding for the Coast Guard in fiscal year 2010. Furthermore, the bill allows for an additional 1,500 personnel to be added to the Service's roster and includes several provisions authored by LoBiondo.
"The men and women of the Coast Guard work tirelessly to carry out the Service's many missions. Each day, they protect the public and help to ensure the safety and security of our country, acting as our nation's maritime first responders. This bill includes several important provisions which will improve the organization and capabilities of the Coast Guard," said LoBiondo, a member of the Congressional Coast Guard Caucus. "They rightly deserve our continued support and the full resources of the federal government to help them succeed at their missions. I applaud my colleagues for recognizing the critical role the Coast Guard plays daily across the country and abroad."
Earlier this year, LoBiondo introduced two separate pieces of legislation that were subsequently included into H.R. 3619, the "Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010."
LoBiondo's first amendment was modeled after his bipartisan legislation, the "Coast Guard Service Member Benefits Improvement Act" (H.R. 2901), which would eliminate discrepancies between members of the Coast Guard and their families and members of the Armed Services. These discrepancies included several retirement, educational and childcare benefits not afforded to their counterparts in the Coast Guard, which is under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
"The Coast Guard is unique within the military community because it is located outside of the Department of Defense, and, while these authorities have been made available to the other military services, this amendment was necessary to provide the Coast Guard similar capabilities," said LoBiondo during the House floor debate. "This was a common sense step which will improve services to service members and their families."
LoBiondo also offered an amendment modeled after his "U.S. Mariner and Vessel Protection Act" (H.R. 2984), which would provide liability relief to U.S. merchant mariners who wound or kill pirates while responding to a pirate attack. This week, LoBiondo debated the merits of his amendment on the House floor with the backdrop of recent Somali pirate activity off the coast of Africa, including the capture of a Panamanian-flagged vessel on Thursday. As part of a classified Special Forces trip over Labor Day, LoBiondo met with Navy Seal teams in Kenya who are currently training local forces to battle ongoing pirate attacks.
LoBiondo offered both as amendments during the full House floor debate. At the conclusion of the debate, they were both accepted by voice vote. H.R. 3619 passed the full House 385 to 11.
The legislation awaits consideration by the Senate.